I was browsing through the whiskey section at our local liquor store, as I often due, and came across a whiskey I couldn’t ignore. A 95 proof, Colorado straight rye whiskey. So, I did what I usually do. I threw it in my cart with 8 other bottles that caught my eye.
We’re going to discuss Laws Whiskey House’s history, distilling, and selections before getting into our review. Our bottle that we are reviewing is Laws Whiskey San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey. We’ll cover the taste, price, and value of the spirit inside. Let’s get to it.
Laws Whiskey House History
Alan Laws, a former investment banker, founded Laws Whiskey in 2011. He had always had a love for whiskey and kept quite a collection. Finally, in 2011 he decided he wanted to make whiskey himself, and it was a process he did not rush.
Laws didn’t launch their first batch until 2014. Most start-ups will source their whiskey or send their first whiskey off right at the 2 year mark (not that whiskey has an aging requirement). I guess that’s the benefit of coming from investment banking in oil and gas.
Nonetheless, Laws’ patience paid off. Their first release sold out quicker than expected, and they have hit the ground running since.
Laws Whiskey House Distillery
Laws Whiskey places an enormous focus on their grain. They don’t source any whiskey from other distilleries – it’s all made with 100% heirloom grain from Colorado. They rely on two family farms, one in San Luis Valley and the other in Eastern Colorado. These two families supply all the grain that goes into the whiskey you drink from Laws.
Laws Whiskey House, located in Denver, CO, creates their mash, open-air ferments it for four days, and then distills it in a four-plate custom pot.
Laws Whiskey Selection
While Laws has a more diverse collection of whiskeys with their limited-release options, their year round options are bourbon and rye. They offer 3 choices of each, straight, bottled-in-bond, and cask strength. I’ll briefly touch on each before getting into my more in depth review of the straight rye.
Laws Whiskey Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This was their initial release. It’s most common to have three grains used in bourbon. Corn, barley, and either rye or wheat. Alan Laws said he couldn’t decide between using rye or wheat in his bourbon because he liked both flavors. So, he did what any reasonable man would do and used both.
This 95 proof bourbon uses a mash bill of 60% corn, 20% heirloom wheat, 10% heirloom rye, and 10% heirloom malted barley. I guess it turns out Laws decided to lean into the wheat a bit more. The bourbon is aged 3 years before being bottled.
Laws Whiskey Four Grain Bottled in Bond Bourbon
I’ve discussed what bottled in bond means over many of my previous reviews, but I’ll touch on it briefly here for the new people. The Bottled in Bond label requires the whiskey to be produced in one season, with one distiller, and at one distillery. Then it must be aged a minimum of 4 years in a federally bonded warehouse and bottled at exactly 100 proof.
Laws Whiskey doubles down on the aging, and let’s this bonded bourbon sit for 8 years.
Laws Whiskey Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey Cask
When Laws Whiskey Straight Bourbon is done aging, it is usually cut (diluted, watered down) to the 47.5% ABV it is bottled and sold at. With Cask (cask strength), the whiskey is bottled and sold without being watered down. So, the ABV or proof is different with each batch. You can expect most batches to lay somewhere between 110-130 proof.
LW San Luis Valley Straight Rye
95 Proof 100% heirloom rye mash bill. While some sources cite the mashbill at 95% rye and 5% malted barley, their website lists 100% rye. I’m going to trust the horses mouth on this one.
LW San Luis Valley Bottled in Bond Rye
Follows all the same regulations mentioned above. Listed as 95% heirloom rye and 5% heirloom barley. Hmmm. Aged 7 years.
LW San Luis Valley Rye Cask
Listed as 100% heirloom rye. Aged over 3 years, and bottled at a proof specific to the batch. As mentioned, this will likely run in the 110-130 proof range.
Laws Whiskey Straight Rye Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, we can dive into the more pertinent information about this specific Laws Rye Whiskey.
Aroma: Floral notes seem most prominent. Citrus and light pepper also make their way in. A light, cool smell.
Taste: The light, cool smell definitely comes from mint. Salted caramel, pepper, and orange round it out.
Finish: Medium to long finish. The coolness from the mint is still prevalent, which dulls out into a light pepper in the throat.
Laws Whiskey Straight Rye Taste Summary
After my first sip, I didn’t think I was going to like this rye very much. The mint and pepper was overwhelming on my parched and partially chapped lips. However, I added a large ice cube and let it sit for a minute. While the coolness was still prevalent, it slightly delayed the pepper.
Perhaps it was the chapped lips from the dry Colorado air, but I am surprised by how much I enjoyed the rest of my glass in comparison to the first sip. I’ll certainly have to try it again after some serious hydrating.
Laws Whiskey Price
Okay, so I’m a fan of Laws Whiskey Straight Rye, but what does it cost to buy a bottle? Let’s take a look. As a note, prices may vary based upon individual store and location. I generally use different Total Wine locations to come up with an accurate price range.
- Laws Whiskey Straight Rye 750ml: $47-55
Laws Whiskey definitely lays on the more expensive side of things. If you’re looking to upgrade to their Bonded or Cask options, you can expect to pay closer to the $70-85 range. However, even their base option isn’t a price I love spending on a bottle.
Laws Whiskey Value
I like Laws Whiskey a lot, but it’s more than I like to spend. What does this make of it’s value? Well, to me, It’s something I’ll buy here and there. Maybe a nice gift I’d get for someone as a little taste of Colorado rye.
We’re all working on a different budget, though. If you’re someone who consistently spends $50 or more on whiskey, or if that’s the low end of your budget, I think Laws is a great bottle to spend your money on.
Laws Whiskey Summary
As a resident of Denver, CO, I am always looking for Colorado spirits and beers to try. In my couple years here, I have been slightly disappointed in many of the craft beers and liquors that come out of Denver. Yet, I seem to love alcohol that is produced outside of Denver such as Breckenridge Bourbon or Voodoo Ranger out of Fort Collins.
It’s safe to say that I’ve found the best of both. Laws Whiskey House Distillery is located in Denver but uses grains from family farms hours away from the growing metropolitan area.
Laws Whiskey places a large focus on the heirloom grains they use and the family that produces it for them. Add to the fact that Laws tends to age their whiskey a little bit longer than many options, and you’ve got a quality whiskey.
Laws Whiskey San Luis Valley Straight Rye is a very solid option for those who don’t mind spending $50 on a bottle. It’s unique and has some depth to it. The flavors also compliment each other well, as surprising as that was for me.